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Authors of the history of the FSHS: “It was students who built the FSHS”

Preventive mental health work, the provision of health check-ups and issues relating to oral contraceptives are just some of the areas where the FSHS has progressed based on students’ initiatives.

“The FSHS has never been afraid to explore new ideas put forward by students. And I sincerely hope this attitude and willingness to adopt new ideas will continue”, says Kristina Kunttu who has compiled a history of student healthcare together with Tapani Kunttu.

This history of the student health service, YTHS – Edelläkävijä. 90 vuotta opiskelijan terveyden ja opiskelukyvyn hyväksi (2021, in Finnish), describes different periods in student healthcare from the 1930s up to 2020.

After studying the service’s history, the authors conclude that it was mainly the students who built the FSHS. Over the years student associations have had a great impact on the improvement of student healthcare services.

“I was surprised at just how much influence students have had”, remarks Tapani Kunttu.

Both authors were greatly impressed by the impact the FSHS has had, and continues to have, on society.

”It’s good to show to society at large the important role the FSHS has played in health promotion and illness prevention among students in higher education”, says Katariina Poskiparta, Managing Director at the FSHS.

A taste of life over the years

Tuomo Yli-Huttula, Chair of the FSHS’s Board of Trustees, praises the way the book has brought history to life.

“It provides a fascinating insight into the events that have unfolded over the years and contains interviews of people who won’t be among us for much longer to tell their stories”, Yli-Huttula says.

Kristina Kunttu herself worked at the FSHS during many decades, first as a GP and later as a researcher and in health promotion. Tapani Kunttu – a historian and a non-fiction writer specialising in recent history – was also familiar with the FSHS’s past through his earlier works.

The writing process gave Kristina Kunttu new perspective. After a long career at the FSHS, she found it intriguing to study and understand why certain things were carried out in a certain way at the FSHS.

Her time at the FSHS is also reflected in the book.

“In a way, historical works always say something about their authors. In this case the past is also being seen through Kristina’s eyes, from the inside, so to speak”, muses Poskiparta.

Innovations for the 21st Century

Reading the Kunttus’ work, it’s evident the FSHS has always been a pioneer in healthcare. Yli-Huttula believes that the innovativeness shown over the years can be a great source of inspiration once the FSHS starts tackling the mental health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Clearly, we don’t need to copy old ideas, as today’s ways and means are different”, Yli-Huttula points out.

The FSHS’s major service expansion in 2021, when students at universities of applied sciences were given access to student healthcare, is not included and remains the subject for the next such work. Following the expansion, the number of student healthcare clients more than doubled and a vast number of new employees were recruited.

Yli-Huttula and Poskiparta believe that even in an expanded organisation past values should be respected. Allowing FSHS employees to participate in the development of services has improved commitment and resulted in long careers. Students’ opinions should also continue to be heard in the future.

It’s good to be familiar with the FSHS’s history when planning for its future. But what will the future hold?

“It’s very important that we continue to provide student healthcare in the future. The best way to secure the future of our services is to ensure they’re up-to-date, affordable and of high quality. Students should feel our services are both appropriate and meaningful”, Poskiparta concludes.